OPM Director Resigns

Office of Personnel Director Kay Coles James resigned Monday, submitting her letter of resignation to President George Bush effective Jan. 31, 2005.

Office of Personnel Director Kay Coles James resigned Monday, submitting her letter of resignation to President George Bush effective Jan. 31, 2005.

“The opportunity to serve President George W. Bush and the nation is a high honor. The President and his entire family have always been extremely supportive of my commitment to public service and I remain forever grateful for their many kindnesses and their trust in my abilities. I deeply respect and admire the President’s personal courage, his focus on results over process and his demonstrated record of decisive leadership based on principle,” James stated.

James issued high praise for the federal workforce.

“Public service is a noble profession and our federal employees are true patriots charged with defending our homeland and servicing the taxpayer, often in the face of great personal sacrifice and danger,” she said.

James said she was proud of the effort her team put forth in working to elevate performance and results over “outdated systems through President Bush’s management agenda.”

She said she will seek opportunities that will allow her to “maintain a voice in national policy discussions while participating in private and non-profit solutions designed to improve the lives of our fellow citizens and further meaningful reforms.”

James served as the primary advisor to the President on all issues regarding pay, benefits and personnel policies for the nation’s 1.8 million federal workers and over 2.6 million retirees and annuitants.

As OPM director, James managed the largest employee health care and life insurance programs in the nation. During her tenure, James led Bush Administration efforts to implement major new federal employee benefit programs including Health Savings Accounts, Flexible Savings Accounts and Long Term Care Insurance. James also directed the staff and systems responsible for conducting nearly 80 percent of the nation’s personnel security background checks.

In 2002, James played a central role in Bush Administration efforts to conduct the largest government merger since World War II through the consolidation of 22 agencies representing 180,000 employees, 15 different basic pay systems and 17 separate labor unions into the new Department of Homeland Security. Working in close coordination with DHS Secretary Tom Ridge, James launched the collaborative process used for developing the new personnel system for the agency.

In 2004, as called for in the National Security Personnel System legislation, James and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld began the process for transforming the Department of Defense personnel system under which 700,000 employees work.

She also managed the OPM human capital efforts under the President’s Management Agenda Scorecard — a process designed to review and grade federal cabinet and independent agency efforts to link human capital recruitment and succession planning to agency needs and revised missions. As chair of the newly-formed Chief Human Capital Officers Council, James also led federal efforts to implement government-wide policies that linked pay and performance, increased workforce safety, and improved agency succession planning.

Prior to her appointment by President Bush, James served as the Director of the Citizenship Project at The Heritage Foundation and held several appointments under President Ronald Reagan and President George H.W. Bush. James also served on a number of corporate boards and as the Secretary of Health and Human Resources for the Commonwealth of Virginia under then-Governor George Allen.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47